DESTINATIONS - TRAVEL DESTINATIONS
Idalia National Park is a resumed grazing property in central-west Queensland. The Park protects mulga woodlands, the headwaters of the Bulloo River and tributaries of the Barcoo River. It’s home to 15 native fuchsia species and the endangered yellow-footed rock wallaby.
The 144,000-hectare area that is now Idalia National Park was never prime grazing land and it was gazetted as a National Park in 1990. The newer homestead was converted into a ranger’s office and information centre and the older homestead ruin was left as a decaying relic of times past. The rubbish tip at Old Idalia holds some fascinating relics
Idalia National Park makes an excellent two-day sojourn in Queensland’s mulga country, with good driving and walking tracks through the Gowan Range providing splendid views of the surrounding countryside. There are interesting pastoral relics, some amazing natural stone formations and plenty of animal and bird life.
Another appealing feature of Idalia National Park is the extensive labelling of most of the tree species in the Park. Visitors are left in no doubt as to the identity of the trees and shrubs they’re looking at.
The visitor’s centre is a mine of information and there are relics on display. There’s also an intact old steam engine that was originally installed at Monk’s Tank.
The Monk’s Tank camping area has a composting toilet, but no showers or reliable water.
We spent two days at Idalia National Park and found time to do the Bullock Gorge Walk and the walk to Wave Rock at Old Idalia.
It’s easy to stroll around the old mustering yards at Monk’s Tank, looking at the way the cattlemen used the slender mulga and lancewood trunks to make their own design for stockyard fencing. The ‘tank’ dam is still functioning, but severe erosion on the earth wall may see it soon return to a natural watercourse.
Murphy’s Hole was obviously a source of reliable water and there are remains of the plumbing that brought water from the base of this shallow gorge to a trough for cattle to drink from. Even in the drought conditions the Park was experiencing when we visited there was still surface water visible in Murphy’s Hole.
A patient wait on the flat-topped escarpment near Bullock Gorge walk gave us a glimpse of the rare and endangered yellow-footed rock wallaby. He bounded slowly over the edge of the rocky slope, eyed us over for a few minutes and then hopped silently away.
Around the Park
A detailed road map of central-west Queensland will get you to Idalia National Park and the mud-map from the information centre will suffice for driving and walking in the Park.
The nearest towns to Idalia National Park are Isisford, Emmet and Blackall. All have some supplies and fuel and there’s good motel accommodation at Isisford and Blackall. Isisford is a beautifully maintained little town that’s well worth a visit.
The 30km drive from the bitumen Blackall-Yaraka Road turnoff into the park is on well-graded dirt, but it crosses tracts of black soil plain en route, so it’s a fair-weather road. As you get closer to the park entrance the steep escarpments and flat-tops of the Gowan Range come into view.
The Monk’s Tank camping area is 14km from the information centre, along a winding, generally flat track. The northern extremity of the Park is Emmet Pocket Lookout, 12km from Monk’s Tank and all the tracks are navigable by soft-roader. There are only a couple of gnarly, rocky patches that need special care.
Our trek assumes a drive from the information centre to the campsite at Monk’s Tank, followed by a drive to Emmet Pocket and then a return journey, visiting the sites of interest on the way back to the information centre.
The only side track not shown on the Idalia National Park information sheet is the drive to the excellent walking track at Bullock Gorge, but it’s clearly signposted.
The cooler months between April and September are the best times to visit Idalia National Park. In summer it’s far too hot to attempt the walks. Don’t attempt the trip after heavy rain, or if it’s forecast, because the black soil country becomes impassable when wet.
There’s a camping fee for staying at Monk’s Tank campsite, but there are no day-use fees in Idalia National Park. It’s important that visitors are self-sufficient, because there’s no reliable water in the Park.